One year ago this month I met Luke Renner, founder of Fireside International, through the work I was doing with another non-government organization (NGO). Have you ever met someone and recognized you were destined to do great things together with that person? That is how I felt as I walked to my car that evening after meeting Luke for dinner.
Like many who have worked with NGOs, I thought I knew what was needed and worked in developing nations. Because of my limited knowledge and lack of understanding, I had come to believe those who live in poverty are uneducated, lazy, and have no ambition. Luke challenged my personal thoughts and beliefs by challenging me to come to Haiti, to open my mind and heart to new and fresh thinking about how to help others in a third world country.
In March of this year, I traveled to Cap Haitïen to learn about what it is like to live in a poor country. It was the beginning of a real education for me. I had allowed images of the news media in the U.S. to paint for me pictures of what Haiti looked like. But what I saw was a beautiful country. Luke introduced me to many of his Haitian friends. I fell in love with these people who want to be educated and provide for themselves…who want to work…who don’t want to be dependent on handouts from others.
I witnessed firsthand the work of Fireside International through the Caribbean Institute of Media Technology (CIMT) and the concept of providing portable education through The Learning Village (TLV). The vision and mission of Fireside is to use communication technologies to empower people living in developing nations, regardless of socio-economic status. Empower is a BIG word and a very different approach than many other NGOs have taken in a country like Haiti. You have heard the old saying, “Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day… but teach him how to fish and he can eat for a lifetime.” For real change to happen and be sustainable in a place like Haiti, it will only come as a result of helping Haitians help themselves… not through forms of charity that provide only handouts or other traditional forms of outreach.
One year after meeting Luke, the destiny of doing great things together is on the horizon. If you are tired of the traditional forms of outreach… of giving money and time to organizations and seeing little change occur…come join us at Fireside. It is a process and we would love to have you learning with us!